The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is still under fire after one of its armed officers killed a civilian along the Lagos-Benin Expressway during an argument with occupants of a bus that was stopped dor searching.
The viral video showed how a customs officer shot an individual as the argument ensued.
As Nigerians demanded justice for the dead and punishment for the killer-officer, the service made Nigerians angrier by releasing a statement which many saw as an attempt to cover up the crime and trivialise the murder.
See the customs statement below:
Another attempt by the Customs PRO, Joseph Attah, to defend the service on TVC on Monday morning backfired, as he dramatically evaded critical questions asked by the YourView crew comprising Morayo Afolabi-Brown, Tope Mark-Odigie, Nyma Akashat-Zibiri and Obiajulu Ugboh. A lawyer and public affairs analyst, Lanre Suraj was guest on the live programme.
Attah was interviewed via the telephone.
Nyma had explained to Attah that what caused the aggravation of the argument was that someone brought out a phone to record the officers and the officer in question tried to seize the phone. She then demanded to know if it was a crime for a person being searched to make a video of the exercise with his or her phone.
Below is the transcript of what played as Attah attempted the question:
Nyma: Can a Nigerian make a video while a Customs officer searches their bag?
Attah: Now..now..have you listened to the audio record of one of the passengers that is also going round on social media?
YourView crew: (chosrused) Yes
Tope: Please answer the question Sir.
Attah: If you have, you will agree with me that yes, the man that died was not a passenger….
Tope: (cuts in) Please answer the question Sir
As Attah still insisted on his own narration, Mr. Suraj, the guest on the show, cut in…
Suraj: We are talking about the shooting of the gun
Attah: Like I said, we already in touch with the family. It is not something that should be condoned by any sane human being in any organisation. Nigeria Customs Service does not encourage that. This crime will be subjected to….
When the crew could not get Attah to answer the question asked, the lead presenter, Morayo, called for a commercial break.
Earlier during the grilling, Attah also refused to answer questions concerning the gravity of the crime committed by the officer.
“The purpose of your carrying gun is not to fire at innocent people like this,” Suraj had pointed out to Attah. “There was no basis for even an attempt to threaten to shoot with a gun. So, the first thing is, that officer must not only by now be in custody, but must actually be tried for murder and not even manslaughter”.
Suraj went on to state that everyone had the right to feel embarrassed and reluctant when asked to open a bag containing personal belongings like underwears in public, especially at the airport or on the highway.
Responding to Suraj’s point of view, Attah began: “Well, it would appear that we have a judgement already made. The purpose of any investigation is to dig deep into the root cause of that incident…..As part of our investigation, we are going to look at the weapon handling skills of these officers. A better weapon handling training would have avoided this unfortunate situation…..”
Popular broadcaster and online publisher, Sulaiman Aledeh, who has been monitoring the development using the hashtag #wedemandjuaticeNCS, stressing that the crime must not be swept under the carpet, then tweeted a response to Attah’s seeming diversion away from justice to training.
The social media is currently awash with condemnations trailing the incident as well as the response of the Nigeria Customs.
In the audio Attah was referring the crew to, a passenger involved in the incident narrated how trouble started and confirmed that the person killed was not a passemger in their vehicle but a friend to the officers.
The audio also confirmed that those being searched were actually coming from the airport where they had already been searched by Customs upon arrival from abroad.
The occupants of the vehicle had wondered why they would be subjected to another search after the one thoroughly done at the airport.